Southampton supervisors should address budget

Published 9:32 am Saturday, April 30, 2011

To the Editor:

We, the citizens of Southampton County who meet as Citizens for Responsible Government, would like to encourage the Board of Supervisors to address the budget issues with more scrutiny this year than in years past.

Every family in the county is having to reassess its needs in order to stay within budget (and those needs have changed), and our Board does not seem to embrace the same measures that we citizens do. We highly recommend that it be done before it is too late to alter the course.

Any increase in taxes is going to reduce the disposable income of those citizens who need it most. Granted, in some line items there is a reflection of some reductions, but they are only minor in scope. We feel a 5 percent spending reduction is not an unreasonable goal to accomplish. Everyone is having to do with less.

There are several recommendations that we also urge the board to consider:

• Pursue with tenacity unpaid taxes.

• Lower the debt limit.

• Become aggressive in demanding innovation regarding budget issues from department heads — use employees already on the payroll to arouse the plans to reduce spending.

• Use any new revenue to lower debt.

Having said this, we recognize the relief that some of our county employees need in cost-of-living adjustment. We propose that instead of a 2 percent across-the-board raise that strong consideration be given to the lower quartile of county employees.

A bonus plan is the more suitable course of action in these economic times for those in the bottom quartile of our county government. Additionally, a bonus program could be implemented (if not already) for employees to be eligible to receive “cash’’ for suggestions that lead to savings that benefit all taxpayers.

Any payments in the form of bonuses do not add to the future tax burden with responsibilities toward a defined benefit plan, but they do offer some relief that is needed most by those in the bottom quartile.

These measures if given high importance will begin to hold the line on tax increases and prove to get Southampton County moving in the direction these times call for, which is efficient, cost-effective government, and most important, responsible government.

Thank you for including this letter in The Tidewater News.

William Hart Gillette